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it is used to signify any particular species of persons or things. Thus Addison, speaking of the metaphors which professional men most commonly fall into, says, “ Your men of business usually have recourse to such instances as are too mean and familiar.” Spect. No. 421.–And Cleopatra, in All for Love, speaking of the Roman poets, says,
When of, for, from, and by, are to have a long, and
when a short sound.
A distinction similar to those we have been obsery. ing seems to have taken place in the pronunciation of the preposition of. The consonant of this word is almost invariably pronounced like the consonant v; and when the word does not come before some of the pronouns at the end of a sentence, or member of a sentence, we sometimes suffer the vowel o to slide into the sound of the vowel u; and the word may be said to rhyme with love, dove, &c. Thus in the well-known couplet in the tragedy of the Fair Penitent,
Of all the various wretches Love has made
The two ofs in this couplet we find, may, without any very palpable departure from propriety, be pronounced as if written uv; rhyming with dove, &c. but when the word it, him, her, them, or any other personal pronoun follows of, either in the middle or at the end of a sentence, the word of must then be pronounced as when heard singly, rhyming with the first syllable of nov-el, hov-el. Thus every ear will readily perceive the impropriety of reciting the following sentence in this manner,–We never know the true value uv time till we are deprived uv it; and the superior propriety, as well as harmony of this manner, We never know the true value uv time till we are deprived ov it.
The same observations hold good with respect to the words from, by, for, and every word that in certain positions may admit of a less distinct and emphatical sound : for we may allowably pronounce from as if written frum in the sentence, I delivered him From the danger he was in ; but we must always pronounce it nearly as if written fraum in such sentences as the following: I came FROM him; I delivered him FROM it.
The word by is liable also to a double sound in different situations ; that is, sometimes like the verb be, and sometimes like buy. Thus we may say either, He died by (be) his own hands : or, He died by (buy) his own hands : but we must necessarily pronounce it buy, when it comes before the word it, him, or any similar word at the end of a sentence; as, whatever was the weapon, he died by (buy) it.
In the same manner we may say, I wrote to a friend for (fur) his advice : but we must invariably say, He would not give me his advice, though I wrote for (faur) it. In these instances we plainly perceive, that there is something left to taste, and something established by custor. But notwithstanding the little hold we have of these fleeting sounds, that convey to us these less important parts of a sentence, we havé still sufficient perception of them for establishing this generat
rule. When these signs of cases, of, from, by, for, are in the middle of a sentence, they are sometimes liable to a double sound; but when at the end of a sentence, or member of a sentence, and succeeded by it, him, her or them, they are invariably pronounced as when heard singly, of, from, by, for, &c.
How to pronounce the possessive pronoun Thy. From what has been already observed of the pronoun my, we are naturally led to suppose, that the word thy, when not emphatical, ought to follow the same analogy, and be pronounced like the, as we frequently hear it on the stage: but if we reflect, that reading or reciting is a perfect picture of speaking, we shall be induced to think, that in this particular the stage is sometimes wrong. The second personal pronoun thy, is not, like my, the common language of every subject; it is used only where the subject is either raised above common life, or sunk below into the mean and familiar. When the subject is elevated above common life, it adopts a language suitable to such an elevation, and the pronunciation of this language ought to be as far removed from the familiar, as the language itself. Thus in prayer, pronouncing thy like the, even when unemphatical, would be intolerable; while suffering thy, when unemphatical, to slide into the in the pronunciation of slight and familiar composition, seems to lower the sound of the language, and form a proper distinction between different subjects. Iftherefore it should be asked, why, in reciting epic or tragic composition, we ought always to pronounce thy rhyming with high, while my, when unemphatical, sinks into the sound of me, it may be answered, because my is the common language of every subject, while thy is confined to subjects either elevated above common life, or sunk below it into the endearing and familiar. When, therefore, the language is elevated, the uncommonness of the word thy, and its full sound rhyming with high, is suitable to the dignity of the subject; but the slender sound like the gives it a familiarity, only suitable to the language of endearment or negligence, and for this very reason is unfit for the dignity of epic or tragic composition. Thus in the following passage from Milton :
Say first, for Heav'n hides nothing from thy view,
Paradise Lost, b. 1.
O Sun, to tell thee how I hate thy beams. Paradise Lost, b. 4. Here pronouncing the pronoun thy, like the word the would familiarise and debase the language to prose. The same may be observed of the following passage from the tragedy of Cato: :
Now, Cæsar, let thy troops beset our gates,
And mock thy hopes. Here the impropriety of pronouncing thy like the is palpable : nor would it be much more excusable in the following speech of Portius, in the first scene of the same tragedy.
Thou know'st not that thy brother is thy rival;
Put forth thy utmost strength, work ev'ry nerve
And call up all thy father in thy soul. As this pronoun is generally pronounced on the stage, it would be difficult for the ear to distinguish whether the words are
Thou know'st not that thy brother is thy rival — or
Thou know'st not that the brother is the rival, &c. and this may be one reason why the slender pronunciation of thy should be avoided as much as possible.
Perhaps it will be urged, that though these passages require thy to be pronounced so as to rhyme with high, there are other instances in tragedy where the subject is low and familiar, which would be more suitably pronounced by sounding thy like the ; to which it may be answered, when tragedy lowers her voice, and descends into the mean and familiar, as is frequently the case in the tragedies of Shakspeare, the slender pronunciation of thy may be adopted, because, though the piece may have the name of a tragedy, the scene may be really comedy. The only rule therefore, that can be given, is a very indefinite one; namely, that thy ought always to be pronounced so as to rhyme with high, when the subject is raised and the personage dignified: but when the subject is familiar, and the person we address without dignity or importance, if thy be the personal pronoun made use of, it ought to be pronounced like the : Thus, if, in a familiar way, we say to a friend, Give me thy hand, we never hear the pronoun thy sounded so as to rhyme with high : and it is always pronounced like the when speaking to a child; we say, Mind thy book, Hold up thy head, or Take off thy hat. The phraseology we call thee and thouing is not in so common use with